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Leveraging Technology to Expand Online Language Learning

Page history last edited by Tera Meschko 9 years, 1 month ago

Leveraging Technology to Expand Online Language Learning


Primary Presenter: Mark Knowles

Co-Presenter: Gretchen Jones

Organization: University of Colorado Boulder

Role: Director

Track: Presentation

Level: For Mere Mortals 


Abstract: Immersion school communities and adult professionals are two groups that can benefit from online language learning. This session addresses the nexus between different language learning populations and technology tools, and offers concrete ideas about developing online language courses with tools best suited to particular learners and needs.


Bio: Mark Knowles, Director of ALTEC at CU-Boulder, has a Ph.D. in French which he taught before turning his attention towards technology and language learning in 1996. The impact on language instruction caused by the internet and digital information has emerged as one of his primary passions.


Dr. Gretchen I. Jones is Academic Director of Foreign Languages and Asian Studies and Associate Professor in the School of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC). Her publications include articles on Tanizaki Jun’ichiro, Japanese woman author Kono Taeko, Japanese comics and online language teaching and learning.


Description: This presentation, pitched at the Mere Mortals level, looks at the potential of online language teaching and learning and the pockets and niche populations that might truly benefit from online delivery. For example, immersion schools often have parents eager to brush up on or even learn from the beginning the languages in which their children are immersed. As working adults with children, however, attending face to face classes may not be possible. Similarly, immersion students need opportunities to continue learning and exposure during extended vacations and after they leave the immersion environment due to a change in schools. Adult professionals might seek rarefied Languages for Specific Purposes courses such as Business Portuguese or Chinese; Japanese, German, Korean, or English for Engineers; Spanish or Haitian Creole for Health Care Workers; Kiswahili for Development Professionals, etc. But different populations also have different needs. This presentation discusses how specific tools and technologies might best suit certain populations. Basing much of our talk on ongoing research and development from a project with immersion school parents, we will present the pros and cons of teaching language using Quia, a new technology called Speak Everywhere, Pearson's MyLanguageLabs, as well as standard, well-established technologies built for the general population such as Skype, Facebook, and Voicethread. As a result, participants will have an understanding of the myriad niche populations who desire language training, an expanded sense of the nexus between populations and technology tools, and ideas about how to develop online language courses in which the tools match the needs of the population.

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